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July 2007
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September 2007


Varnish_2Most of the interior components of my Joel White Pooduck Skiff are complete and in the process of getting their six coats of varnish in my storage tent.  I'm also varnishing the gunwales, breast hook and quarterknees and 'midship frame. The centerboard is getting three coats of primer before paint. 

Isn't it wonderful how the varnish brings out the contrasting colors of the mahogany, oak and yellow cedar?  I'm using Epifanes Clear High Gloss Marine Varnish which I dilute 10% with thinner.  I sand with 220 grit and wipe down with a rag moistened with mineral spirits between coats.  As you can imagine, the whole process is a real pain in the ass!  Plus taking into account all the varnish, sandpaper, gloves, rags and paint thinner for cleaning the brushes, it ain't cheap either!   If I had the chance to do it over again I would probably rub on an oil finish instead.  At the Northwest School for Wooden Boatbuilding they use "Boat Sauce".  Warren passed on a couple different recipies to me:

Ray Speck’s Boat Sauce

1 Gallon Sea Fin Teak Oil
1 pint varnish
1 pint pine tar

Sunshine to kick off the pine tar (polymerize)

Boat Sauce

1 gallon Sea-Fin Teak Oil.
1-quart spar varnish.
1-quart pure gum turpentine.
1 cup to 1 quart Stockholm Pine Tar
(More for a darker finish less for a lighter finish.)
Add Japan Drier according to instructions on can for a quicker setting finish.

Brush on a consistent coat of boat sauce and let it set for ten to fifteen minutes depending on the speed of drying. Do not let it get tacky. Wipe it down with a white tack free cloth, being careful to avoid any pooling. The interior of the boat can get a thin coat of finish with out sanding. The exterior of the hull and the thwarts, knees and rails should be lightly sanded with 220-grit sandpaper between coats and wiped down with a tack rag between applications. Thwarts, knees and rails may be wet sanded for a finer finish. Often second third and following coats require exposure to sunlight to dry. Reapply bi-annually or as needed.

Spotted in this month's issue of Wooden Boat: an article written by Christopher Cunningham demonstrating the proper execution of The Dory Stroke in his 18 ft double-ender.

Playing Hooky

Marrowstone1Every once in a while when business is slow I'll get a random day off from work. It just felt wrong not showing up, especially on such a beautiful summer day after already being off for a week of vacation. Just to be sure I really wasn't needed I work up early anyway and checked in.  When I received the  "all clear", I picked up a coffee from Starbucks and immediately left for the Peninsula.  Of course, I had packed my gear and strapped the  kayak on the car top the night before.  I felt so guilty that I decided to punish myself by circumnavigating the Indian/Marrowstone Island complex.

Randel Washburne wrote about the Indian Island circumnavigation in his book Kayaking Puget Sound, the San Juans, and Gulf Islands.  Marrowstone and Indian Island are connected by a little isthmus, so the circumnavigation of either island alone requires portage over some muddy tidelands and a highway.  I've done that before and it wasn't very pleasant. Indian Island is occupied by the Naval Undersea Warfare Engineering Station and landings are strictly prohibited, so its circumnavigation can be an uncomfortable trip.  In contrast, Marrowstone has plenty of public places to stop.  By the way, Capt. George Vancouver named Marrowstone Point in 1792 after the whitish cliffs behind it made of what he called "marrowstone."

I put in at the public boat launch at Port Hadlock across from Ajax Cafe and next to the Northwest School for Wooden Boatbuilding.  I planned my launch to coincide with slack and paddled clockwise around the islands.  I caught the flood current around Marrowstone Point.  Even though it was still an hour before the maximum flood I got a good boost: first 5, then 6, then an unbeliveable 7.5 knots around the point!  There was a very impressive tidal rip consisting of a row of standing waves extending out from the point a long way into the channel.  All my speed was lost as soon as I passed through that rip.  Check out the picture of Marrowstone Point I took after my trip (last picture). Even 4 hours later at slack, the rip is still there (the dark line extending from the point).  Unfortunately, you can't see all the whitecaps and turbulence in the picture.  Maximum current at the point today was predicted at 3.2 knots.  I'll have to come back some day during a strong flood just to play in it.  There is convenient beach access at Fort Flagler right at the point.

I continued on and stopped at East Beach County Park, and then Indian Island County Park before waiting a little for the current to slow down before paddling through narrow Port Townsend Canal and back to Port Hadlock.  Total distance was about 17 nm.


Urban Paddle

Theafoss1Theafoss2Theafoss3Theafoss4Theafoss5Just some pictures from paddling yesterday with Ricardo along the Thea Foss waterway.  The pink salmon are running now and were jumping right in front of our boats.

Ricardo's qajaq turned out to be particularly fast -- I'm not sure why.   It's narrow, but not especially long, lightweight, or smooth below the waterline.  Note how little kayak there is behind the cockpit.  Could that be the secret to significantly reducing the wetted surface area?

Cannon Beach

Cannonbeach1Cannonbeach2Cannonbeach3Cannonbeach4Cannonbeach5I took a trip to Cannon Beach this past couple days.  The beaches in Oregon are so much nicer than on the Washington coast  The scenery is stunning and sand clean and tan, not dark gray like in Washington.  Plus they don't allow cars and trucks on the beach.  In Washington the beaches are like highways.  In fact, SUVs have been known to run over sunbathers lounging in the sand in Washington.  Part of the experience of driving on a Washington beach is either getting stuck in the sand as the tide starts coming in or towing someone else out.  I'm tempted to say it's stupid to allow all those cars on the beach but the beaches aren't that scenic anyway so I guess I don't really care.

I didn't bring a kayak along to Cannon Beach but I wish I had, along with a helmet.  There were some nice friendly waves and I would have loved to play around in the surf zone.  Well, they looked friendly from a distance anyway.  Up close they were probably huge.

With all the fantastic scenery I was surprised that there weren't any kayaks around or even any kayak shops.  On the other hand, with the surf, swell, rocks and constant wind it is consistently a 4* envionment, really not the best place for the casual paddler.  Then at Indian Beach in Ecola State Park I discovered that surfing is the thing around here.  We fit our sport to our environment. 

All those surfer dudes and honeys sure looked cool in their full body wetsuits.  I have to say though that on the water they were not very inspirational.  It certainly didn't look as easy as it does in Endless Summer, where they surf the same wave for half an hour! 

Dubside's New Kayak?

PWell, I finally found that picture of the mysterious black kayak!  It was posted by Reg Lake on the Kayak Building Bulletin Board of course, a forum which I hardly ever read anymore, since I haven't been building kayaks and felt that there wasn't anything new there that I needed to know.  Plus I got away from the time consuming habit of browsing through the pictures of wooden boats like so much kayak porn. 

So whose face could that be on the deck?

Check it Out!

Warren Williamson and Dubside are featured on Justine Curgenven's Blog.  She filmed them paddling in the Deception Pass tidal race along with Tom Sharp and Matt from Body Boat Blade.   Will we see them and other Pacific Northwest paddlers featured in This is the Sea 4, along with coverage of her recent expedition in Haida Gwaii?  In my humble opinion, the recognition by sea kayaking's premier filmmaker is well deserved! 


I've heard rumors about a picture of a black kayak making the rounds on the paddler forums -- a custom low volume Ice Kap made for Dubside by local fiberglass guru Sterling Donalson.  Has anyone seen this?  Dubside himself confirmed it for me today.  It's going to be lightweight, about thirty-something pounds (38 lbs is what Ice Kaps typically weigh) black, of course, maybe with some kind of pattern.    Hopefully, it will be finished in time for the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium in September.

Redfish Wooden Kayak Rendezvous

I spent the weekend in Port Townsend at the Redfish Wooden Kayak Rendezvous, “R2K7”.  I always come away from this event marveling at the craftsmanship that goes into each boat.  Among the crowd of people wandering into the lineup of kayaks on the beach, is always a person who will say, “What beautiful boats.  They are works of art!” 

As works of art, what do they say?

R2k73R2k72R2k71R2k74Maybe just as important as the end product is the story about how each boat was made and where the materials came from.  One of the builders I met had made a Yost Sea Ranger completely out of old aluminum crutches and ski poles -- the urban equivalent of driftwood, I guess.  It reminded me of George Dyson, who recycled old stop signs into parts for his baidarkas and paddles.  Another builder made a skin-on-frame sailboat for about $30 out of scrap wood.  The skin was made out of the plastic used to shrink wrap power boats with, and the sails out of surplus Tyvek house wrap.  It was built for the Lake Steven’s Aquafest $50 boat race

Isn’t it fitting that these small boats, which we wear as extensions of our varied individual bodies, and use to commune with the natural world in an environmentally respectful way (in contrast to those on power yachts and jet skis, for example) are not mass produced in factories running on cheap oil, marketed heavily in glossy magazines, purchased for thousands of dollars, shrink wrapped and shipped air-freight across continents and oceans to satisfy our unlimited desire for cool, shiny consumer items?  (Or are they?)

I’ve often thought of Greenland rolling as performance art also.  How many of you can’t help but launch into a spontaneous rolling demo in front of an unsuspecting crowd?  Especially if one is in a traditional boat, it tells the story of how the Inuit built these skinboats to live off the sea.   Moving through and rolling in and out of the water, the paddler resembles the very sea mammals that were hunted.  It's just a tiny sample of a lost ancient culture that enabled the arctic peoples to survive simply and sustainably for thousands of years.

[For the complete R2K7 photo album click here]